1. How did you first become interested in the topic of assertiveness?
Many years ago, as a newly qualified social worker, I found myself nervous of dealing with both my clients and my colleagues. I sometimes had to give difficult messages to my clients and, as I liked almost all of them, that was difficult. My colleagues were harder, though. I come from a working class family, where no one ever challenged professional people (or "toffs" as they called them). Suddenly, I was in meetings with doctors and other professionals, and I didn't always agree with what they said. Coupled to that, I was very shy about speaking out in meetings. Sometimes, I left meetings really kicking myself that I hadn't spoken out.
Luckily, my boss agreed to pay for me to attend a three-day assertiveness course. It was a fantastic experience that helped me so much. I have loved sharing the skills with others ever since.
2. What do you draw from to shape the stories about real-life situations related to assertiveness on your blog--from your personal experience, professional experience, or a combination?
When writing my books and my blog, I draw from a variety of sources. My own life, of course, but also stories told me my friends and stories I hear on courses. Naturally, I change the details and the names so that confidentially is respected.
I am constantly surprised how much difficulty in relationships is caused by lack of assertiveness. This can be anything from expressing your own wishes about how to spend Christmas or other holidays to saying "yes" or "no" between the sheets. And, of course, if everyone in soap operas were assertive, there would be no drama!
3. In your hypnotherapy practice, what are some difficulties you see people facing which relate to issues with having trouble asserting oneself?
I am a Cognitive Hypnotherapist as well as an author. I find that hypnotherapy clients sometimes come to me with problems that relate to assertiveness. For example, they may lack the confidence to do well at job interviews, presenting themselves too modestly. Sometimes they have to speak in public, and this leaves them fearful, especially if the message they have to give may not be well received. In these cases, as well as hypnotherapy, I teach them assertiveness and sometimes influencing skills, too. It is amazing how much improvement can be made in just one or two sessions.
4. What inspired you to write your book, How to Be Assertive?
Although I have a blog on assertiveness and run courses on the topic, I wanted to reach a wider audience. The skills are so important: they can improve confidence, enhance job prospects, even turn your life around. I hope that my book How to be Assertive will inspire many people to make the changes in their lives to help them lead the life they want. It is full of really practical ideas, and each chapter has at least one "Try this!" section. By trying out these suggestions, readers will get so much more from the book
5. Why do you see conversations as a key to gaining more confidence?
Conversations are key to assertiveness. We need to consider not just what we say, but how we say it, and how we look as we say it. It is estimated that 65% of the message that we give others non verbal. That is not just our clothes and hairstyle, but our body language. It is hugely important. Another 25% of our impact relates to our voice. Just try saying "I'm not happy about that" in an aggressive, passive, and then assertive voice, and you'll soon see how relevant this is. Yet the remaining 10% is also key. We need to be consistent, to give a coherent impression to the other person to be convincing. Body language and voice are both covered in my book.